Owl rescued, evicted from Duke office chimney

An owl has been rescued after moving into the chimney of an office at Duke.

The university’s Duke Today publication wrote that an owl was rescued and released from the office of Kristen Brown, associate vice president for news and communications at the university. She contacted Facilities Management last week to report strange noises inside a fireplace chimney in her office on Chapel Drive.

A crew was sent out to inspect the chimney, where they found what looked like a nest. The crew thought it might be squirrels, but making noises didn’t disturb any critters from inside.

Chris Sisk, a “Critter Control” technician, then arrived to investigate further. After pulling leaves out of the chimney, Sisk and Randy Orange, a Facilities Management Department building coordinator, found the noisy intruder.

“He said, ‘It’s an owl.’ And I just said, ‘No way!’” Orange told Duke Today, adding that it was the first time he or Sisk had been called to remove an owl, though they’ve handled bats, opossum and raccoons.

“But his was our first owl,” Orange told Duke Today. “He appeared to be stuck. We definitely didn’t want to hurt him. We wanted to get him out safely.”

Sisk used an extension arm with a clamp to pull the owl down through the fireplace and to safety.

Once outside the chimney, the owl settled on a table in the office before flying toward a window. Orange eventually got the owl’s attention and directed it toward a door, where it flew out and toward nearby trees.

Facilities crews installed a screen over the top of the chimney to prevent future incidents.

“I assume he was here to drop off my letter to Hogwarts,” Brown said after regaining her office. “And someone else asked me if we got to the bottom of the question, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?”

Brown said she was happy the story brought attention to under-appreciated staff at the university.

“They’re so great and I don’t know what we would do without them,” she said of Orange and Sisk. “They really deserve so much praise.”

Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett